Jersey Caprese Salad, Hold the Basil
I think there is another reason I am still living in New Jersey (besides its close proximity to Manhattan).
Just to have those 3 months to grow and eat tomatoes.
Yes, they are that good, cause believe me, the weather is annoying as are some other things which I will not complain to you about today.
I know you've seen a billion Caprese salads out there, but this one today is different.
Because I used 5 varieties of heirlooms plus cherry and grape tomatoes that I picked yesterday.
Because I used an amazing special balsamic vinegar made from Moscato grapes from Asti in Piedmont.
Because I stole Lori Lynn's idea and used fennel pollen (flowers) and thyme blossoms instead of the traditional basil (thank you LL).
Where do you get the fennel flowers?
Off the fennel plants, silly. This week only.
Lucky for me, my immediate neighbor at the MCG grows fennel.
It is very delicate and wilts by the time I get it in the car for the ride home from the garden (about an 8 mile drive).
It smells like anise, and crumbled on the fresh burrata with the spicy tomatoes, it is truly what summer in NJ is all about (maybe summer in Piedmont too).
Arrange a variety of cut up and sliced heirloom tomatoes on a big platter. Scatter with sliced sweet 100's and yellow pear tomatoes.
Place big clumps of fresh mozzarella cheese or burrata (even better).
Sprinkle everything liberally with sea salt (I love Maldon).
Next, a few cranks of black pepper.
Drizzle with the best aceto balsamico money can buy and some great olive oil (use it sparingly).
Arrange the thyme blossoms and pinch the fennel flowers in between your fingers and scatter over everything.
On a side note:
The waitress we had this weekend at a favorite Jersey shore spot told us the specials for the evening.
She said they had the "Jersey Hair Loom Tomatoes with a Vinegar ette".
Your salad looks amazing, but I know I will never find the fennel pollen, so guess will just use basil.
Use any variety of tomato you like.
No rules for a Caprese salad!
personally, not sure why you let these anonymous commenters have a forum here........they obviously don't get your humor and wit.
You are so funny and I know you are nice, because you share your recipes with us everyday and I know what hard work goes into writing and photographing, and I also know that you do it for no money.
So Mr. or Ms. Anonymous: it's a free country, and if you don't like the woman's blog, STOP reading it!
Your biggest fan in Minnesota!
Thanks for sticking up for me, but it's ok. I never said I was nice and not everyone is going to like me.....
At least they said I was a good cook!
You don't play it safe and I love every one of your recipes to boot.
Keep poking fun and having fun!
Thanks for mentioning me, I walk every day along the coast and this fennel grows wild. And I've said, I hike with scissors, even today I have a big bouquet of wild fennel stalks in my kitchen, its perfume is heavenly.
You have me drooling first thing in the morning. For all the offended readers regarding the "hairloom" comment, it was done with affection and seeing as how Stacey is a Jersey girl, I'm sure it was even a little self-deprecating.
I'm from Philly myself and I now live in the "deep fried" south. First, that comment brought a little bit of "home" to my morning. Second, when Natalia mentioned green tomatoes, I immediately thought that those would make for a great Southern/Caprese fusion of a salad. You know, Southerners with their fried green tomatoes?